William, my oldest, started Kindergarten a couple weeks ago. Watching my son step bravely onto that big yellow bus and wave to me from the window, I felt Change coming. I have heard other mothers talk about how hard it was to see their kids go to school, but I wasn’t prepared for the ocean of emotions that seemed to swallow me whole. The only thing I can compare it to is grief. Will is growing up. Becoming more independent. He is no longer the baby who needs me every moment, but a boy—a young man—learning and growing. And I’m not there 24/7 to see it. And standing there in my driveway I began to grieve.
My friends told me, “It’s ok! He’s fine! He’ll love it!”
My friends told me, “This is no big deal. You just have to let go of your fear. It’s just a part of growing up.”
My friends told me, “You think this is hard? Just wait till….” This last comment was the worst, and I heard it over and over again. I get it, everyone’s personal pain seems far greater than anyone else’s. Still…small a step as Kindergarten may be, I felt the loss. I felt battered by my friends’ well-intended advice. Job came to mind and I sympathized.
To be fair, my state of mind was a little raw. Loss has been heavy on my mind lately. A friend died in June. She’d fought breast cancer for six-and-a-half long years. She was the third friend to pass away from a difficult illness within a year. I’ve cried for the families left behind, for lives cut short, for the changes in the lives of those left behind. I’ve repeated the clichés: “Our loss is heaven’s gain. They are no longer suffering,” while burying the sadness under sentiment. Will’s step forward ripped the Band-Aid off my fears and grief, and I cried.
Zephaniah 3:17 is on a chalkboard in my kitchen. It reads, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love.” In my angst I read and reread these words and the truth began to sink in. The Lord my God is WITH me in my grief, He is mighty to save me from my fears and anxieties. He takes great delight in ME and He will quiet me with His love—filling me with His peace, not in the absence of the storm but in the presence of it. My sadness for the loss of my friends and the changes in my family—it matters to GOD. God who created all, cares about me and He will “wrap me up in a big hug” as my friend Robert, who passed away last November, used to say.
That peace of God, the reminder of His care, righted my world. I mourned for a brief time, but I clung to the promise of God’s peace. Soon I noticed that my son’s joy began to infect me with an excitement for him. He is thriving in Kindergarten. I knew he would. He loves learning and the thrill of new adventures. And I am enjoying the change in our relationship as he comes home and tells me about his day and we work on his homework together. These are sweet moments that I savor. I know this stage won’t last forever and I will grieve its passing. But I am thankful for the moments I am granted with this little boy.
So for now, I will breathe deep the joy of right-now. Life is a series of little deaths. But with each death is the prompt for growth, for change, for moving forward. Grief is part of life and I cannot ignore it or pretend it isn’t there, but neither can I dwell there. And so I mourn Change for a quiet moment, and remember that “the God of hope (will) fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). I square my shoulders and meet the new day.